Isidoro Ferrari, dynamic and creative godfather to a generation of young entrepreneurs, tells us how an intuition led to the start of a great adventure, the latest of many in his life.
How did the idea of micro diamond surfaces come about?
The spark was lit when I retired. It sounds like a joke, but that's what happened. I found myself with a lot of free time and still a great desire to do things. It's not in my nature to sit still. I wanted to find a new adventure to get my teeth into. So I shared a lot of ideas with my family, and a lot of them got thrown out (he laughs, ed.). Until I asked myself a question: what new applications could this extraordinary material have? I've always worked in the sector - diamond tools for cutting marble and granite - and I've been around diamonds for 50 years. I've learned to appreciate their mechanical and aesthetic properties. For me, answering that question partly meant breathing new life into a store of experience and knowledge accumulated over so many years’ hard, dedicated work, done with passion and self-sacrifice.
And what answer did you find?
The answer is what we see today, the reality of DiamArt; but that's not all. The starting point was an analysis of the essential characteristics of diamond, the natural stone of the most exquisite beauty, which instantly evokes pleasure and admiration in the observer. The outcome of these considerations, combined with a lot of hard work, was DiamArt, a project whose goal is to showcase the brilliance, refractive ability, beauty and strong evocative power of micro diamond in the luxury sector.
Was it more of a business decision than an intuition?
The intuition was the start, but then a whole lifetime of work emerged. I've worked with diamonds for half a century, I know the material and I've learned to appreciate all its characteristics. I've always had to stay ahead of the times to beat the competition. Dellas, the company I founded and led for so many years, was always at the cutting edge, one of the best in the world. I tried to bring the same approach to this new challenge. Hence the research, the endless testing, the willingness to take risks and the search for new solutions have led to patents which allow us to offer products that are unique in the world. I have to say that my children and their associates have been exceptional in continuing this approach. And the credit for doing so is theirs.
What were the signs that told you were on the right path?
We set out with a desire to bring something completely new to the market, something wonderful, exquisite and long-lasting. Diamond meets all those criteria. But that wasn't enough. We needed to find a way of making it unique: and that's where the micro diamond surfaces came in. It's easy to say it, but years went by before we achieved the results we were looking for. Today we offer micro diamond surfaces with a thickness of less than a millimetre, something that no one else can do, and apply them on all kinds of materials in all shapes and sizes: fabrics, metal, stone, glass, plastic and wood. Then came the market's response, the first customers confirming orders, the trade fairs overseas and the opening of sales channels in an important market like Dubai.
What's the secret of this success?
If you can call it a secret, it's passion and research above all. Over many years I've realised that you have to love what you do, and it's only by constantly researching new solutions that you can stay alive and attractive on the market. Curiosity, innovation and forward-thinking risk-taking are the consequences of these first two factors. I've always been an innovator, always tried to have the latest model of machinery, for a start. Apart from that, our approach to our work has been crucial. When things started to go well, we've always tried to help our local area by working with local businesses and supporting them with work, collaboration and availability. Work is a common good, and we've always acted to improve the competitiveness of the whole area, never thinking solely of ourselves.
What are the values that motivate you?
The primary value has always been human relationships with employees. At times we've employed more than a hundred people. For us, every one of them was a member of the family. Fantastic people. Working together and creating a good atmosphere within the company has always been fundamental. Openness, professionalism and affection have never been lacking. The second thing, undoubtedly, is research. I've always given this high priority. There's a memory I can't forget: I was on a visit to some mines in Johannesburg and I had an unpleasant experience. I was attacked and robbed by a gang of thugs. I was the guest of a leading company in the diamond sector, and to cheer me up they offered me four thousand carats of diamonds, worth ten thousand dollars in those days. A considerable amount of money. But that wasn't the most important thing. I was given them on one condition: I had to test them in all possible applications. They put their trust in me, in the way my company worked and the fact that I could find useful and reliable responses for their product. This led to a very close, fruitful and amicable collaboration.
Do you feel satisfied?
I could call myself satisfied: I've lived and worked with passion, always seeking new directions. I've travelled to many countries and at specific moments in history, particularly in Iran, where we were the only authorised supplier at the time of the Khomeini revolution... and many more. Difficult but incredible years. Thanks to my work, I've travelled the world and met some extraordinary people. A wonderful adventure which today brings me constant satisfaction, thanks to my children's work.